The Ultimate Blog Post Checklist: Read This Before You Hit “Publish”
Any writer will tell you that writing a blog is simultaneously the easiest and most difficult thing they do every day. Crafting an exceptional, engaging, and SEO-friendly blog seems easy on paper, but it’s like assembling a choir versus performing a solo. That is to say, a blog, regardless of objective or industry, has boxes that all need to be checked before publishing. Every variable of the content production equation works in harmony to engage readers, offer insight, and increase visibility. Blogs are also a wonderful tool to add brand diversity and add efficacy to any SEO and growth hacking strategies. Give your blog game an upgrade with this handy, dandy guide.
The Ultimate Blog Post Checklist
Content, Content, Content
Life changing ideas can start with a fluorescent light and a bowl of noodles or, for writers, a random thought as they are about to fall asleep. Despite the effects on our sleep schedule, we writers are able to churn out unique content ideas week after week.
The first item on this checklist is probably something to consider before you even start writing, but also to double check once again before you hit publish.
1. Does your idea offer something new?
Once you start exploring your new angle on a chosen topic, you might be flooded with even more content ideas. Write them down! Next, ask yourself the following two questions.
2. Can you link to your own content anywhere within this post?
Adding linkbacks to your own relevant articles keeps the reader engaged in your content and on your website. It also shows that you’re a knowledgeable resource.
3. Can you create more content to link back to this post?
If the answer to this question is “YES,” then add the topic ideas to your content calendar or jot them down in a notebook to flesh out later. When you’re short on ideas, you’ll be glad to have this resource.
Next, it’s always a good idea to test your links.
4. Do all of your links work? Do they all open in new tabs?
Unless you have a good reason for diverting your readers from your blog post, always ensure your links open in new tabs, so that you’re not sending people away from your own website.
5. Does your copy include a single, clear call-to-action?
Depending on what you’re writing about or what your goals are, a clear call to action may not be important to include. But for those of you who make a business from their blogging, or are working at building your platform, having a clear call-to-action prompts the reader to do something. If you want readers to sign up to your newsletter, make the ask. If you want readers to click a certain button, make it obvious and direct them there.
However, don’t get greedy. Keep your ask simple, clear and focused. Don’t inundate your audience with too many demands.
If your answers to any of the first five questions were “YES OMG I KNOW THIS ALREADY,” then keep reading young expert. This checklist is about to heat up!
4. Does your blog post contain at least one high-quality image?
Whether we like to admit it or not, images make a difference. No matter how amazing your content is, when you add an accompanying image, it’s instantly more enticing to readers. Humans are visual creatures and are that much more likely to click on a post if there is a high-quality photo attached to it.
5. Are your images engaging and relevant?
While sites like Getty images and Shutterstock are very useful for a plethora of content, vector art, and videos, you can’t fake original content. Throw in a mixture of stock and original photos and combine those with catchy body headlines to break up the density of your content and keep your readers engaged.
Readability, SEO, and Formatting
Before moving on, triple check the organization of your content.
6. Do you make logical jumps using evidence and verifiable sources?
This may seem pedestrian, but practice makes permanent, my fellow writers.
Even if you are just crafting a personal blog, practicing keen SEO tactics can’t hurt.
7. Is your content reader and SEO friendly?
As many web writers know, Google constantly tweaks its search algorithms, so that means writers should be “eternal students” in a way. Apart from knowing which keywords matter, helpful WordPress plugins like Yoast SEO can streamline your process of making blogs more reader and SEO friendly.
Meta-descriptions also have ever-changing stipulations that can help or hinder your SEO efforts. Include keywords and do your best to make sure they are both eye-catching and click-worthy.
8. Will images look best centered or left justified?
The use of images and headings helps readability, as do paragraph word limits.
You also need to consider the website format.
9. Do your headings need to be “heading 1” or “heading 3”? Does this affect font color as well as size?
“Too many questions…” you might be thinking, but only the first few posts on any new platform are a headache. The tricky thing is that many writers do not draft directly on their WordPress, Squarespace, or other CMS platforms.
Most of us draft in Google Docs or Microsoft Word which can present formatting frustrations when we go to “copy/paste” the content into our chosen platform. Learn to work with your platform layouts, fonts, and heading types. While a little annoying at first, it’s better for your productivity (and your sanity) in the long run.
Pro-Tip: If you do write directly in your CMS platform, it’s always a good idea to save a backup copy of your blog post either on your computer or on a cloud server like Dropbox.
Blog Post Bingo!
Physical checklists can be very useful, but we don’t all want to have clipboards lying around. Making a “Bingo” card like the one above is a clever content writing hack and you can have a physical or digital copy easily accessible. It’s an almost effortless reminder of everything we have covered here (and more).
As with any kind of content from—college essays to tweets—the final two steps are every writer’s favorite (and also arguably the most important).
10. Have you proofread your blog post?
Brushing up on various formatting specifications like MLA, AP style, and others is a necessary evil for any content producer. Luckily, technology is a beautiful thing that can further enhance your productivity and effectiveness as a writer. Run your blog post through a program like Grammarly to make sure you didn’t miss anything.
Last, but not least…
11. Have you proofread it again?
Always check and double-check your work. Try reading it aloud to catch nuances your eyes can’t see. This may sound tedious, but it’s better than being embarrassed by a goofy spelling mistake or a typo you can’t take back.
Once you’ve made it through the blog post checklist and played your content bingo card to win, you’re ready to hit that “publish” button and share your words with the world.